Query #4 September 2014


Below is the fourth public query critique I’m offering up on the blog. This will happen once a month (as long as I get a response). I choose one query per month. If your query is not selected one month, it will be in the drawing for the next month. Please do not resubmit unless you’ve made significant edits. To enter, see the rules here. If you want a guaranteed critique (plus line edit) of your query or synopsis, private ones cost $35 each.

Dear –,

Book Title Titles need to be in ALL CAPS, not italics, in a query. is an Urban Fantasy, complete at 120,000 words. 120K is a hefty manuscript. Opening with this makes me assume that you can cut at least 10,000 words, and I’d aim for cutting 30,000. To date, it has earned a first place in the paranormal category of the RWA’s Winter Rose contest and the Celtic Heart’s Golden Claddagh, which have resulted in full manuscript requests. This is impressive, but saying that it resulted in full requests implies to me that the fulls were rejected. If you have fulls out with agents, say so. If not, leave this part out (the underlined section).

The size of the paragraph below also makes me assume that you might need to do some serious cutting in your manuscript. White space helps readability. Each of your sentences below could be its own paragraph. I checked your word lengths for the paragraph: 28, 30, 28, 45, 41, 29, 43—average 35. This is a great article on word lengths. Try to keep your sentences in the 10-20 range. Then you can throw in a couple longer and a couple shorter. Cutting your sentence lengths and varying lengths will also help readability.

Eliminating the monsters that prey on humanity isn’t everyone’s dream job, but backed by a good truck, charmed silver, and plenty of caffeine, Sloan Carr makes it work. When her oldest friend calls begging for help as murdered women are dropped on his rural doorstep, all with supernatural clues implicating his family, it should be just another job. Except Brennan Tabor is also a vampire and helping him threatens to solidify the divide between Sloan and what is left of her once tight-knit, monster hunting family. The one’s ones she loves are already at odds over her belief that not all supernaturals are monsters, but Sloan owes Brennan for helping her gain her family’s independence from the shadowy organization that trained them and may have been complicit in her extended family’s demiseAccepting the case, she faces off with Brennan’s brother, who may be a serial killer in his own right, and a secretive ex-hunter who refuses to explain why he chose to retire to a magic infested town in the bible belt. Through it all, she’s also tracking a new kind of supernatural threat who leaves cryptic messages about Sloan’s old organization and her duty as a hunter with each kill. Sloan battles to reconcile the promise to her friend and her duty to protect the town’s human population, suspecting that stopping the murderer could ultimately sacrifice her happiness and turn her into the kind of monster her family will have to hunt down.

All of the underlined sections are parts that need to be rewritten for clarity and brevity. Break sentences up and break paragraphs up.

I would love the opportunity to send you a one or five page synopsis and the first three chapters, or more, of Book Title.  Follow the agent’s submission guidelines. If they want anything else, they’ll ask for it. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Fix the lengthiness, resubmit, and then we can work on the content itself.

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